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RAM movie

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[How RAM works] Random Access Memory is a temporary memory store for programs or files you’re using when your computer is switched on. On this old MAC mini, there’s one RAM stick located on the left-hand side of the motherboard. The hard drive is on the right. If you could zoom in to the RAM chip with a scanning electron microscope, this is the kind of view you’d have, millions and millions of memory cells. Each one of these cells can represent a 1 or a 0. It could be on or off. On a one gigabyte stick, there are 8 billion of these. They're not used independently, of course. They’re used in groups of eight. These bits are joined together to form a byte. A byte can represent any character on the keyboard. So, this is binary for a 1, a 2 and a 3 and this is the binary for an A, and a B and a C. And if I can even represent more obscure characters like the “@” symbol or "~". As you type, bytes are assigned to each character that you type and are held in RAM until you press save when they’re transferred to the hard drive. [hello] Programs, of course, contain thousands and thousands of characters, not just a few. They’re loaded from the hard drive into the RAM, and run through instruction by instruction by the Central Processing Unit. To see this happening, we’ll have to zoom out for a better view. The green glow you can see on the RAM stick is the Operating System. Loaded from the hard drive into RAM as the computer’s booted up. When you run a program, the CPU, which you can see flashing green here beneath the hard drive, is working all the time to deal with input, output and memory management. It reads program code from the hard drive and loads it into the RAM. Each time you start a program, it gets loaded into the next available space in RAM and the CPU runs that program code and the code for all the other programs you have running too. If you type a letter, the characters you type are held in RAM until you press save, when the CPU copies those characters into the hard drive. When you quit a program, the RAM assigned to it and any data that went with it is freed up and now available for use by other programs. And the CPU doesn’t have to load programs into contiguous blocks of RAM. This is random access, so programs can be split and mixed up together in the RAM. The CPU can access any byte on the RAM chip when it needs it. Once you’ve closed all of your programs down, the last one running is the operating system. If you shut your computer down, the RAM has no power anymore and is completely empty. But all of your programs and the files that you saved are stored safely on the non-volatile hard drive, ready to be loaded into the RAM the next time you boot up your computer. [Music] [Text, graphics, animation and words by Stuart Ayres]

Video Details

Duration: 3 minutes and 47 seconds
Language: English
License: Dotsub - Standard License
Genre: None
Views: 3
Posted by: clduckett on Aug 16, 2017

How Ram Works by Stuart Ayres

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